Everyone looking to buy (or even sell) a detached home should know a little about oil storage tanks. 

Many homes built before 1957 in the Greater Vancouver area, used oil as a means of heating the furnace. When natural gas became available, a lot of these oil storage tanks, usually buried in the backyard of the house, were filled with sand or were capped. 

As the tanks started to corrode, the remaining oil in the tanks started to seep through into the surrounding areas of the tank causing soil contamination, even as far as the neighbouring property.

BC Fire Code requires that these Underground Storage Tanks (UST) be removed and any contamination be remediated, and the onus falls on the current property owner. 

The cost of removing or decommissioning the UST can be as low as a couple of thousand dollars, to as much as over $100,000, depending on the level of contamination.

The seller of the property wtih an UST should hire a qualified tank removal contractor in order to remove the tank and any excess oil from the property and issue a certificate of removal. 

If the seller does not wish to do this and wants to get indemnity through a reduction in the purchase price of the home, the seller may still be found liable, as the buyer's lending institution may not want to release money before the tank is removed.

One of the signs of the existence of an UST on the property is a vent that is attached to the exterior on the side of the house. It is a pipe with a 180 degree goose neck.

If you require more information about this very sensitive issue when purchasing a property, feel free to give me a call.